Silvina De Vita is a designer and paper artist and runs her own online business My Papercut Forest. My Papercut Forest is a playground for Silvina’s imagination, a place to try out new ideas, artworks and designs. Silvina creates, makes and sells a range of artworks including paper cut sculpture boxes, miniature paper domes, illustrations, prints, greeting cards, and loads of other unique objects. All designs are by Silvina, and all items are handmade with love in Brighton, UK.

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Today I’m talking to Silvina De Vita, the designer and paper artist behind online business My Papercut Forest, which sells handmade personalised paper art, unique paper gifts and paper cuts.

We talk about what paper art is (I’ll be honest I didn’t know!), how Silvina became Etsy Team Captain for Brighton and what that entails, and shopping small and supporting local business.

Listen in to hear Silvina share:

  • An introduction to herself and her business (1:13)
  • Setting up an Etsy store and realising the need to rebrand (5:04)
  • The global reach and changes in Etsy over the past 9 years (10:05)
  • The differences between Not On The High Street and Etsy (12:27)
  • Why Silvinia became Etsy Team captain for Brighton and what this entails (17:22)
  • Tips for new sellers on Etsy (23:22)
  • The importance of good product photography (25:10)
  • Adapting to the pandemic, and unexpected bestsellers (31:46)
  • Getting stocked in and the importance of shopping small and supporting local business (33:45)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (42:31)

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My Papercut Forest on Twitter

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Transcript
Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. Today. I'm talking to Silvina DaVita. She's a designer and paper artist, and she runs her online business My Papercut Forest. Conversation, not just about what paper art is, because I'll be honest. I didn't know. We also spoke about how she is the Etsy team captain for Brighton and what that entails. And we also spoke a lot about shopping small and supporting local businesses. So I hope you find this conversation as interesting as I did when I was recording it. Um, really hope you enjoy it and love to know what you think. And now I'd like to introduce Silvina, say hi, Silvina thank you so much for being here.

Silvina De Vita:

Thank you so much for inviting me.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, you're so welcome. So I'm really delighted. We got to speak today. I was just saying before we recorded, I'm so impressed with, you know, the products that you create. Um, so if we can please get started by you just giving us an introduction to yourself, your business, and what it is you create and sell please.

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah. Uh, so my name is Silvina De Vita and I'm a designer and a paper artist, and I, um, run a business online that is called My Papercut Forest. Um, What I do is quite niche to describe, but basically in a nutshell will be, um, miniatures. So like keepsakes miniatures, or events like anniversaries, or, you know, I need to give a memento that, to remember someone, um, and in general. Yeah. They'll like mini papers, sculptures. Um, I do other sizes, but you know, here they're quite kind of unique and as well, I do a lot of craft kits and, um, ecopaper seed cards that you can plant. And he'd you, um, now is, uh, and. Yeah, they crossover. So you can just then do, uh,paper sculptures at home, basically.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's amazing. And I was saying to you earlier, I've never seen anyone who does quite what you do. So I would love to know how did you get into papercraft?

Silvina De Vita:

Right. Um, yeah, I mean, it's the kind of path I've been doing these for now around 10-11 years. Um, and it really came from a place of necessity to be honest. Uh, I'm my graphic designer. Um, and I work as a graphic designer for many, many years, for me, big, massive companies, uh, and as well agencies, and as a freelancer, I think go to the point that working all the time in the computer, uh, I, you know, I just needed a break and I, I just realized how much I needed to work with my hands. Um, and the thing was, uh, I feel okay, how can I get, you know, what I know, and my passion and my illustrations into a 3d, because, you know, it was very hard to, to get out of the digital world really. So then basically I studied just to do illustrations and cutting them in paper. I said 2D like inboxes. So my very firstwork were like silhouette in books is like a 2d work, you know, work. And it could be like from, you know, I started making that for friends who were getting married, uh, you know, for example, there were like two people on their bicycle and their names, and the date. Um, um, they were like floating on a background and then people were like, oh, that's really nice. Um, would you do one for me? So it came like kind of by tens. And then I thought, okay, someone said why don't you open an Etsy show. Um, I had no idea what I was doing to prepare it up. It was terrible, but I thought, okay, let's just give it a go. Um, what I just realized, I really enjoy that. I just actually, um, Get myself a studio and in very near to where I was living in London then.. And I thought, okay, I was just like that to get one day or two days a week to do this. And then maybe more designs, more ideas I basically did. I just realized that it was making me really happy to do what with my hands. So, um, And then up to then I hate to have postnatal depression. Um, that really, really helped me just to get that, uh, hold. Um, so, so, so yeah, it just, um, I'm kind of really pleased kinds of needles, changing the career, but not really changing because at the same time it's kind of, you know, what I, what I'm trying to do, you know, as a designer.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Thank you for explaining all of that. And how long ago was it that you started your Etsy store?

Silvina De Vita:

So I started in 2012. So next year will be 10 years. So nine years the,Etsy shop, oh my God. It's been such a brilliant experience. Um, so when I started on them, Yeah. I was selling on them on the,under my name, um, mine name is a Latin names who in general, not many people can pronounce correctly, you know? So then that was the strike just to say, okay, my showpiece oh yeah. Good luck to you to get your branding. So then youknow it took me a while to realise selling it under my own name was not working. And, um, and it was just really hard. And so then four years ago, two years ago, yes. I just realized that I need to rebrand. So I just thought of it for a long, long time, you know, what can, you know, what can it be? The name will kind of be named. And I just decided to go to My Papercut Forest. Um, first because we'll go with Papercut. And so that's part of the SEO in the, in the brand, but as well, I thought, okay, how can I put my name, age, my brand. So in Latin Silvina, that's my name means from the forest. So I thought, okay, that's brilliant. Then I can just put forest in my brand, then I'm kind of that at some point. So then I just decided just to go there and the logo's three trees, which are my three children. Um, so basically I thought that go better in terms of an English speaking country, but as well, just put in a little bit of, um, of me in that name too.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for sharing all of that. And did, um, rebrand and make a difference for you?

Silvina De Vita:

Absolutely, absolutely. Um, I think it was just more. Um, some nicely and as well. Um, it was so for me, it was just kind of perfect. I was so happy with it when I go to the, you know, I mean, I, I put a lot of thoughts into the logo and that, but it was just happy just to realize that, you know, it was better from the SEO it just really kind of go through my values and my company values, you know, we're really outdoors family. We spend a lot of time, you know,camping and outdoor in the woods. Yeah. So actually it kind of makes sense that your brand as well, you know, reflects a little bit of you, you know? Um, and then of course, in other stuff, you know, I realize a lot of, important details photography, it was a long journey. Um, you know, you learn, you learn all the time, but I'm always super grateful from the, you know, very first sales to, to everything, to develop different, um, products and things. And, um, so yeah, you know, you do to do, to get to that realization, but it's never late just to change the, you know, your name. If you have a name of your brand, you're not happy with it. I mean, I did it, um, and that was fine. Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, thank you for that. And do you know, I never thought about the fact that actually having a name that maybe people can't always spell correctly makes it harder for them to find you in the first place. I'd never actually considered that when choosing a name. And that does make total sense.

Silvina De Vita:

Absolutely. Um, I mean, it was just to me. Oh, wellwe thought you put your name, but because my name it's really very, very Latin Italian. Yeah. Um, it's kind of, um, then you get into a muddle, you know? Okay. You spell it like this. And to be honest, I spent, I think half, half of my life correcting people on my name. Like, no, it's not Silvana, no it's not Sylvia. See? Yeah. So he might be, you know, if I just, um, you know, I'm in a meeting and they say, oh, what's your, what's your shop name? Like no one could catch it. And I realized that, yeah, someone that I suppose I love my name and I'm very proud of it in terms of SEO, in terms of practicality, you know, if you are in an English speaking country, you have to be, you know, um, Easy to find. And I just thought that, well, it's part of the SEO, you know, could the papercut now, you know, the, actually the more of what you do, it will help you as well as have to be found on Etsy, which is an absolutely massive search engine. If you could just do that to help yourself, it's just kind of like, you'll be your own friend. You know what I mean?

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, I do. That's such good if I've never had that before and it's such good sensible advice. Thank you. That's one thing. So I'm thinking that when you started on Etsy as it was nine years ago, was it relatively new then Etsy as a platform and what you do? I guess, I think perhaps both were relatively new.

Silvina De Vita:

Uh, I think, um, I think Etsy it's been around for a long, long time actually. Um, if I, um, right to think he was, he was founded in 2005. So I think it's been around something like 17. 16 years, 17, years. Um, so, um, it's, you know, it's a massive, massive, uh, company that, uh, I think it's, you know, quite new in terms of awareness here in the UK, but actually in the U S is a massive, um, you know, platform just to sell. Um, when, when I, when I open, actually the funny thing, it was mainly all US customers and, uh, Um, European and I think something, I think, you know,Not On The High Street was, around 16 years or 15 years as well. So I think in this country, um, Not On The High Street was more predominant, more than Etsy, but, uh, but it just, yeah, it's been around for a long time. Um, yeah, when I studied, no many people were working with paper in the way. Um, that I started working. Um, but then of course it got popular with this. I mean, it was a lovely thing to do, to be honest, it's a very nice, mindful craft. So I'm very happy that people can just use it to, you know, to, to get out of anxiety or just to help, to, to quiet the mind. Um, so I, I can see more of, um, um, you know, it's getting a little bit more popular, right?

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, thank you for explaining that cause in my mind, Etsy hasn't been around as long, but I wonder if that's because it's just been in the more recent years that it's become more popular in the UK.

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It's the awareness. Absolutely. I think it's been establishing yeah. From 2005, but the awareness in this country, I think it's going to be new. So like, let's say a few years, um, But in the, yeah, in the US that there are shops that they're mainly. Uh, you know, they, they, their salary. So let's see. So you can definitely make, you know, your salary just selling on Etsy for sure, you know, it's huge.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, that's interesting. And I think it's exactly what you said, because I think 10 years ago, if I was looking for something a bit niche or something personalized, for example, I would have gone to Not On The High Street whereas now, if I was looking for that same product, I would go to Etsy.

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah. Oh, I think bothplatforms are phenomenal, you know,Not On The High Street it's brilliant platform, uh, but basically, yeah, the awareness in him that UK was more about, uh,Not On The High Street because of course, you know, you actually focus on UK, uh, sellers and makers and artists. And so, so it may kind of sense, you know, when actually Etsy is worldwide, I mean now I think two years ago they put a market focus on India, so they open Etsy India. So it's kind of really, really huge, you know? Um, it's huge in Germany and, um, France, Canada and the US like absolutely huge, but basically they are opening more and more offices all over the world. So making it a little bit more aware, you know, the countries, right.

Vicki Weinberg:

Okay. And how easy, cause I, I genuinely don't know this I mean, can you, as a UK Etsy seller, can you sell in all of those other marketplaces? Does that happen by default? Or is that something you have to actually do?

Silvina De Vita:

No, it happens by default. I mean that basically anyone can sell to absolutely every country. Um, you can, if you don't want to do that, and then basically you de-select the option of shipping and then that's it. Um, you know, That's kind of an obvious thing that you don't want to sell to those, um, countries you don't choose the shipping costs, you know, like when you do the he, or she can, um, profiles, but basically what happened is that unfortunately, due to Brexit, this year, uh, is being really, really difficult, uh, to, to trade to European country. So you, you can see, um, for the, for the last, I dunno, let's say in January, February, um, the, you know, The selling it in terms of sales for the Europe countries are quite low in comparison to how they used to be other years, but, you know, actually anyone can sell anywhere. So this is, this is kind of a thing with Etsy, I think it's kind of, um, kind of a window to the world, to be honest, you have no idea who's watching and who's the looking and you have to think that people who already go to Etsy, they have like the wallet out, they have the wallet in the hand, so there they have that ready to spend. Uh, so it's actually, to me always to say that it's always a good tip to spend the time on your Etsy shop because people are already there, you know, oneclick away just to purchase that, that for shopping. So, um, so yeah, it's just brilliant to work on your, on your text and your search terms so basically you get into the central back category.

Vicki Weinberg:

No, thank you. That's really, that's really, really good advice. Thank you so much. I hadn't actually thought about the fact that you get so much reach because on lots of other marketplaces, it's almost the default is you sell in your own country. And then if you want certain other countries, that's like an add on. Um, but I didn't really think about Etsy has such a huge reach. That is fantastic. Before we talk a little bit more about, Etsy, I did just want to touch on, so I know you said on Etsy and, or Not On The High Street, how would you say the two compare and is the other certain products in your opinion that are better than one than the other? Do you have any thoughts?

Silvina De Vita:

Um, I, uh, I'm quite used to, Not On The High Street. I mean, they only a year here um, absolutely love the platform. And funny enough, I studied last year when actually just before the lockdown. So to me, um, you slides, I mean, it. Um, a good platform just to be in, and that's what reaches for new audiences for sure. Um, before that, my, one of my main narratives was Etsy and I had a more international customers, I mean, I had a lot of orders from the US all over the years. And, um, but I would say that Not On The High Street love personalized items, um, And all my, the main sellers on Not On The High Street are personalized, um, items and, um, sculptures and miniature domes. Um, we, I do have, uh, someone on Etsy, but, um, I think, um, Predominantly more personalized Not On The High Street, I would say, but in general, um, when it's Christmas time, I mean, they both are really, really good, you know, um, for like Christmas special, like seasonal it's amazing both platform.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. So I know that you're the Etsy team captain for Brighton. Can you just talk a little bit about, um, what that means? And so, um, so what that, what that role is, what it means and why you decided to take that on.

Silvina De Vita:

Oh, um yeah, I, I love community to be honest. I'm really, really passionate about the work of community and get together and how a group of people really, really can make a huge change. Um, I think that I almost always likethis, this is not new from now. Um, I'll also add to rainy. Um, you know, when I was a kid, I will always be like in kind of like that kind of leader, you know, we, we, you know, when I was around 15, 16, I was needed and nine year old and, you know, things like that. So I always loved the community group and, just the kind of teaching side of it. And the same when I finished my, my design degree, I spent four years teaching University of Northern Ireland before coming here to England. So I really do believe in like education and. That, you know, do the, good education can change the world. So, um, in terms of, uh, of Brighton team, um, Brighton is phenomenal space for artist makers. Um, and when I moved, um, I moved on. I had my third child here and I got, again, postnatal depression. It was an amazing team and they really helped me just do not only just to make friends, just to get my feet in the groundin a new city, uh, that helps you just to get your head around things. And they were amazing. They were absolutely wonderful. What, so when, when the, the team designed it just to sit down, they sit down, ask the team. I thought, you know, well, um, they gave me so much that I wanted to give back. Um, so, um, So I just put up allegation of like, oh, you know, the power of that off the team. And yeah, I was now the new team its, um, me and five other, four other team leaders that were fighting the team. And it was just that, you know, to all of us, we wanted to give back to help other makers or artist, someday artists. Amazing. But they don't know how to do it. You know, sell the stuff, um, how to, you know, kind of do merchandise or actually, you know, do theater, I don't know, from a painting just to a greeting cards. So basically what helping them, um, basically for free. I mean, we, they, they don't pay us. Etsy doesn't pay us and we are, you know, absolutely I'm doing this because we love doing it. Yeah. Uh, just helping the community here in local and Etsy does have teams all over the country, you can find a team that can help you. Um, and they put up events as well. So we put events for Christmas, but when we used to have, and I can have an in person event or a cup party. So, um, these, these programs that Etsy have about teams is fantastic because whatever you changed in the platform, we teams are informed. So we can inform our members, you know, say things, changing the SEO sometime out. Um, and actually they do, um, help us in terms of, uh, funding to do these kinds of events when it was like the Christmas market at the very end of the year. So I think he spent he's fantastic, but you have this community around your local area that contact with people. Like you, that they're trying to make a living as a small business and as well for questions, right? Like, oh, how do I do these even technical things? So it's just lovely. We used to do. Uh, every month for a coffee morning. Um, um, yeah, it was just a lovely thing to do in terms of meeting new friends and as well, um, you know, some of the artists and freelance work on their own. So it's been very nice, um, excuse just to get together with other people, um, every now and then, um, just share. You know, all the ups and downs of working, you know, the freelancers you're not on your own.

Vicki Weinberg:

That sounds fantastic. Thank you for explaining all of that. Cause I know we have lots of Etsy sellers who listen. So I guess anyone who isn't already connected with their local team can go and find one.

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Do you know like that teams all over the country, so you can find one that is near to the local area. Right now that we couldn't do in person and we can do zoom as well. So you can just join some new teams as well. So I'm just alone on social media. So, you know, it's always nice to have someone out of the, kind of have your back you know..

Vicki Weinberg:

Absolutely, so much, like it's such a steep learning curve, isn't it, or getting started on any marketplace or, or any of your running of your business. There's just so much to do. And so having people to help guide you through it, particularly at the beginning is wonderful. And then it's obviously great as well for you who you've been doing this for a long time to be able to help other people that again, started. I just think that's just wonderful for everyone.

Silvina De Vita:

Oh, yeah. I just think unites really, if you give, it gives back to you, I honestly think they always feel that I get more out of it in terms of all the friends that I made and all the amazing people that I, I have so much, so much talent here. You know, so many people that I met and I it's you know just because of being in the team.. So I really. Just, you know, he said, when we see tuition, man, and you can always help on us, as we say, like someone helped you and then you will help you want us to get back. So yeah, he said, he said, lovely thing. So yes. To go on, join it Etsy team, whatever you are.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And so this bit sounds like a good space to just ask you. So do you have any sort of top tips for doing well on Etsy? Um, what are some of the things that when a new sellers have joined your team, what are some of the things that you would talk to them?

Silvina De Vita:

Well, um, I. Uh, I think that's everything. If you put the time, if you put something, it will give you back. So I opened my shop every single day and I pick the listings that are expired and renew them. And, uh, before I renew them, I check that all the tasks I compete, but it, you know, the title is still good and relevant. Um, I just check the photos that they are all there between me. Six to 10 photos. Uh, that that's good. Uh, so basically I, I pay attention and I check, so I was just saying it will be just to kind of check everything, complete your, about section, complete your policies, um, check that your delivery profiles are correct so you don't lose it money on, on the, on the shipping cost. Um, Um, basically try things, you know, if you have a lot of stock around, test run a sale, you know, Etsy love a sale. When you put a coupon or a sale, it will boost you. It will boost, um, in, in the search engine. Well, if you have a, new, new product, they, they boost that automatically when you just have a unique thing and just try things. If you don't know, um, you know, you have an idea and, uh, you don't know if he's going to sell it. I always straight away put it on Etsy because it's a good way, just, to you know learn if that product will do well or not. Um, and another top tipfor me that I, it was like a discovery that actually invest in photography, invest the time and take good photos. And if you feel that you're not good at taking photos, just do pay a photographer. And to me make a massive, massive difference when I invested on my photos, um, just to send to a photographer and that will change. Incredible the change. Um, I used to think, oh, you know, whatever you find that. And I just didn't realize, um, any e-commerce that you need photos, that's a good picture because they cannot see, they cannot see the product, you know, particularly if he's overseas. Um, but if you have good photos and you can show them, you know, the size and the materials and you know how she's done, um, It's just, you know, you'll, you'll probably 50% of the job is done, you know, you're, you're showing the best of it. I know. Particularlywith Etsyallowing videos. It's just great. You can actually show process how it's made. You can just show, I don't know. For example, let's say you have, I mean, it's shop with videos. You can show if that the beach, uh, clothes obese have imperfections. It's just there for you. So the thing is you complete everything. If you do on the media, if you complete your bio section, you've consulted. You talk about you. I think it shifts them. You're making a real connection with the seller. I'm sorry with the buyer and, um, And those connections last, you know, I have times that they'd been buying from me again and again, for the past eight, eight years, I need something portable. I can't believe, you know, that they're feel, I always remember them. I remember the name I just, you know, and these will know, do you never, you those little handwritten notes, you know, just those little things, I think like you memorable, you know, um, So, yeah, that will be my, my top tip.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really good advice. Thank you so much. I didn't actually know you could fit videos on Etsy, is that something relatively new?

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah, last year. So it's very, very year.

Vicki Weinberg:

Have to be honest. I haven't, it's not something I've actually seen on any listings yet as a customer. So I'm going to look forward to starting to see some cause. You're right. It's when you're selling online, it's you made such a good point about photography and about the videos. There's only so much that words can do because you don't want the hassle of getting something it's not right. You have to send it back or if it is personalize. You, you can't do that. So you have to be confident that what you're buying is what you're after. And so I think photos, as you say are just amazing way of just you as the customer gets such a good idea of what you're going to expect. So if the, if the, if the images were poor personally, I would think, well, if the images aren't good, it's maybe the product.isn't so good.

Silvina De Vita:

So sometimes it's really not a reflection it's reflection. Maybe you didn't have, you didn't have the money then, you know, to me was that I didn't have the money then. And I, I, I do not understand the importance of listing it. And then I think once you do click, when you're like, as you say, you know, you're drawn to the beautiful picture. So in a search engine, All about three million product shouting at you. Which of these are you going to click on if you think of that way, you know, like you have so many competitions, so many things on Etsy that are there, you know, buy me, buy me just to, you're going specifically to the photo that's drawing your attention. So I think it's actually uh, you know, and, and again, to me, I'm, I'm, I'm honestly, I'm guilty here. I, it was very late to discover this, you know, it just, I thought I put all the time and effort just to design more original things, more new things. And I just feel, realize that, you know, maybe if I show my person a better light in a better way, that would sell better. And once I, I, you know, I realize that, I mean, uh, how do you talk? I always says that about like photography shoes. It's very hard. And I took the, oh my God, like, oh, maybe she's right and she absolutely was you know, because as soon as I saw my product Uh, when, when I go my first bunch of photography from my photographer, I was like, oh my goodness, how I didn't. So these, you know, and it was like a light bulb moment for me. So I think you get all the time, these traps that you think, oh, well, I'm not there yet. Good to invest. But actually that money investment on a photographer, he will come to, you ten times. Just 10 times. So do invest, you know, doing two things in getting your products like unique things, you know, like in, in putting your brain into unique things that are, you know, don't copy, just do your own, you know, your own unique thing and actually persevere because uniqueness is what actually is going to separate you from everyone who's coping, you know, As well, invest on photos, you know? Um, so I, you know, I have just to say that, um, you know, myself personally, it's quite getting to, just to realize in that, and now I don't really have a locator for that. I keep seeing your photos. Okay.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you for sharing that. But I think it's one of those things that can seem quite obvious with hindsight, but you don't know what you don't know. I was talking to somebody yesterday and she was talking about how. She had a realization a bit later on that, that creating it or she's a maker. And she was saying she had a realization that creating your products is only like a small piece of it. You actually have to put in, a lot of work to actually sell them And she spoke about how she was happily making, making, making, and wasn't spending anywhere near as much time on selling, you know, making sure the pictures were nice and all the other things that come in, you know, come into actually selling your product. And while it can seem really obvious. I also think particularly if you love the making part and that's what, you know, you're in it because you enjoy doing it. I guess it can be easy to, to not to maybe just underestimate exactly what else is required. Especially if you have a brilliant product. Yeah. If you have a great product, you so happy, you're happy with it. You love it. It's really, you know, you know, it's really good. I think it still can be easy to underestimate what you have to do to actually. Sell it to people and get it for them to find it in the first place.

Silvina De Vita:

Absolutely. You are a hundred percent. Right. And I think what happened was last year, right? Last year, let's say you are, you know, you sell at a fair or in open houses. Brilliant. Right. So you never needed to do a photo because you know, you go in person and people will see that the product they are holding in their hands is such an amazing product. And then. Well, what happened last year? Last year, everything was, you know, feet up, right? If everything changing, you know, whirlwind, and then you realize. Okay. That was my main earner what do I do? You know? So then basically it just, you know, realizing that the other ways that, um, because I completely get your point. Yes. I love making this my favoritebit. My favorite bit is just designing new things, try narrow all the process. And actually wasn't done to the photographer on board that I wanted to do the new thing. Right. But that's your completely, right? That's 10% of the thing. Then the photography is just, the listings is doing a wholesale catalog. You thinking about a planning and your financial about costs. That it's nothing, you know, and that's what I think is just running your own business, you know? Yes. The fun bit. It's up to you say making and I love making, I love making. I love designing new things and I'm doing prototypes. It's my favorite thing. But without the financial plan, without the cost, without checking, I'm doing my, I don't know my wholesale catalogue and, um, you know,approaching new shops, then that's the other part of the business that, you know, If you want us to make a profitable business, you have to do as well. Um, take, take care of now. Um, so, um, yeah, I hundred percent agree with you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Thank you so much for that Sylvia, you know? And, um, when you, I'm going to change the subject a little bit now, if that's okay. So you were talking, when you were talking about wholesale, so, um, and I know that you sell your products. Is it, am I right in thinking it's mostly local retailers that you sell your products to?

Silvina De Vita:

Um, well, um, last year I was selling the National Trust and then the welcome collection. Um, and I know other retailers read some, I, I, I think I have, well, no, I have things in the Netherlands as well. So actually I'm, you know, I have, I have my stuff in a lot of shops at the moment. Well, I mean, well before Covid, but he was yeah around, around. 15 16, 17 shops, uh, here in the UK and another part of the world really. But, um, yeah, but absolutely. I, I, um, Contacted. And, um, I started with a lot of local shops because I really think, you know community is very important. Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And then I guess that's kind of what the next topic I was trying to get us onto actually with that, that will segue there was that I know that you do feel really strongly about shopping small and shopping locally. I've seen you speak about that before. So I wondered if we could just talk about a little bit of that now.

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah, I just, um, I think it's just the same with the community. Shopping smalland shop local is so absolutely important because you're not only supporting, you know, that I don't know that sale will that independent shop and your boiler, right? You should pull your time. It means it means fixing the roof is just so important. And I know we get sometimes in the convenience, you know, but to be honest, Amazon doesn't need any more money. Thank you, Jeff. You're fine. You know, when actually you are investing in, you know, your local bookshop, you're actually really putting your money and holy, holy text always say vote with your money. And I think that we give money, quite really important thing. Um, you are, you know, supporting that bookshop and that shop or that coffee shop that you love to go with your friends when you're in town. And if you just stop doing that. That means, um, you know, that shop has to close. I was just really, really sad. Uh, last year with everything that happened, retail, I thought you broke my heart to going back to Brighton when, whenever he sees that opening and see so many shops that they just couldn't make it. But of course you understand why, you know, you have to pay rent and things like that. So you see the same thing online. You know, when, when you are you invest in a little bit more money. Of course they will be more expensive if it's more expensive because you know the material because that person, the material they, they source for maybe another small business. So in general, small businesses work, with small businesses, you know, like in terms of, you know, when you get your paper and your glue, I knew these a lot and they all have like, you know, cost just to pay. Well, in general, small business and the local businesses, there are much more, you know, get attention to detail you will receive as you know, legal. No, they're really grateful as well to receive your, your custom. Um, so. I really do believe that if you do love your, uh, high street, and if you just do love your independent bookshop or coffee shop, or, you know, you doing best investing that because in the long term, that's, you know, w w he's kind of a bubble, right? You see the money that you invest in that small business. I'm sure they will invest in another small business, in general, the economy. It's just growing. Um, and, and you're just giving you an opportunity to thrive locally. And I think all the community in general and the local community, you know, elevate when you do that. So, um, yeah, I think more than ever. Post pandemic. I think it's very important just to really, really think when, when you spend, where are you going to spend it? Um, don't you think?

Vicki Weinberg:

No, I do think I completely agree with you. I mean, I have to be honest cause I like to be honest, I'm not against, um, selling on Amazon or buying on Amazon either. Is it, you know, first of all, because we're a small business, that can be a great way for them as a business to get more exposure and more customers, depending on what they sell. Because, um, the, some businesses a handmade platform isn't the best place. And so they need to be somewhere else. But as a consumer personally, I always do think about what I'm buying and think, okay, is this something that I can get on my high street as opposed to just going online and looking particularly now, as you say, high streets are just reopening and they will need help. So I think sometimes it's just thinking about what it is you're looking to buy and thinking. Do I have to be going on, on, on the internet necessarily to get this? Or can I walk down the road or get a bus into town or whatever and pick this up from someone close to me, I think, I think that's all it comes down to it really isn't it making those small, just, just being conscious rather than automatically open up your browsers are not as if you won't be shopping online either, but you know what I mean. No, no, absolutely.

Silvina De Vita:

No, no, no, no. That's exactly what I tried to say the same. You, I mean, don't get me wrong last year. Um, uh, Amazon, Etsy even Not On The High Street, come on, they're all like online marketplaces and there were amazing what nothing was open. So they really, you know, people had a necessity. Um, they, they, they helped me that necessity. So I'm not saying no to online, uh, because you know, of course this is part of the retail world and he has some phenomenal things as well. But what I'm saying, if you accept, yes, you say, now the things that opening up that shops are reopen the doors, um, and you have a gift shop nearby and. Nice. Just to be a little bit more conscious in maybe the next Christmas, the Christmas shopping when you start doing your Christmas shopping, if you start early, if you start out, you know, you can actually buy from the shop on your high street and that will really, really help them and help the economy.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree with that because as you say, I mean, online is necessity and the emphasis, I, you know, day-to-day sometimes, you know, you are going to go online and get things. I think we all are, but I think you're right. It is about just thinking sometimes actually I have got an option and I could go to my high street or I could go to someone local, or who, who makes cards or whatever the thing is that, um, sometimes it's just a case of looking round, but I think there is definitely more of a sort if a desire for that, I mean, I see on local Facebook groups, for example, often people say, does anyone on here make teacher gifts? Does anyone here make cards? Can I, is there a local business that does whatever? I do really genuinely feel that there's a bit. Drive where more people do want to shop for small businesses. And do you want to shop local? Um, that's what I'm certainly seeing in, in my area anyway, that it doesreally feel like people are behind that, which is really good to see.

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah, no, you, your quite right. I think honestly the sense of community is growing and growing and that kind of thing. I don't know when, when I see posts like that, the first thing that comes to mind is people from my team. You know, so actually this is the thing about like shop local, a small community and, um, you know, community of makers and, um, it just, that people recommended. Local people. Right. Because that's, you know, this is like the connection that we were just talking before, when I see this posts like that and they will, I dunno, do you know what graphic design? I, you know, I recommend someone from the team or do you know someone who do I've heard at least particularly cards or flat bunnies, and I know who to really lovely way as well to, you know, um, we're we're of my own, um, Kind of like the best PR that you can do for anyone. Um, but I see, it's just getting great. The sense of community um, people are more, um, putting the effort I think. And, uh, definitely, as you say, very conscious.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, thank you. Thank you so much Sylvina. So I've just got one last question before we finish, if that's okay. And that is what would your number one piece of advice be for other product creators and sellers?

Silvina De Vita:

Um, so one tip will be to, um, be original. Just keep your lane, you know, do your thing. Um, maybe people will just tell you that, that won't sell. That that's, you know, I actually just go with your gut, if you have a feeling that you know, well, no, I like it and I thinkit will sell. Um, maybe I think that there's nothing like it. I think it's just, um, with product designed, you know, uh, sometimes he'd get me to the, oh, well, you know, go for it, you know, it, just try it, try it. And time will tell you, if you it sells or not you know, when I, when I designed my craft kit, um, that was because I was doing workshops. And when I was finishing the workshops in person. Yes. So these weren't around what 6 years ago, I. Some people really like the workshops that we did. And so I wanted just to offer them, um, the, my craft kit, you know, so then they can just continue at home and I'm doing, not selling that well. Well, um, and of course, uh, last year they became my bestseller product. Um, I know, I didn't know that I used, because of course it was with potential people wanting to do crafts. Some people have, you know, the anxiety, people were frustrated and they needed to do something the hand, the hands at home. So actually, you know, you never know when that moment will come to you in terms of, for example, you say, oh, well, it's not sellingme my, I dunno, my pretty brunch. And then you don't want you think three years. Yeah. I dunno, mushrooms acrylic brush is trending. It will be that moment, you know, so kind of like the advice is just keep faith and just keep faith on that. On, on your guts, on your, on your thing that you, you know, you love the product we think good product. It's nice, um, to continue doing what you do, because you never know. When it's coming that for you, you know, when that product will get trendy, um, you know, we, I think he's much more honorable being like truth to you that actually all the time in trends, you know, because if you're truth, to you, to, you know, to your design, to what you love to what you, you know, when you are, he will come to you in when he's the right time. So, um, Yeah, that will be my, my top tip to every, any maker or designer. Just keep going, what you're doing. Um, you know, and don't follow trends, not all the time.

Vicki Weinberg:

I really love that. And I really liked it when you started off by saying, you know, stay in your own lane because I think it's so easy to look at what everyone else is doing and think, well that person's doing this maybe I should do that in my. And I'm not, I'm sure others have had different experiences. Of course we all have, but in my experience, every time I tried to do something because someone else is doing it, it's never worked out for me Ideas that come from me work better. Do you know what I mean? I feel like if it comes from you, it seems to. To work out better than if you're just doing it because everyone else is doing it.

Silvina De Vita:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And as well, in general, you know, don't you find that because consumer that you, you are like drawn to something different, right like you are like drawn to that. Oh, I never seen that before. Oh, we never, you know, you just see all the things. It's kind of, you know, you, you will lost, you will get lost in that sea of the same thing. So even though, you know, if he doesn't sell extremely well at the beginning, I said, I know they were selling, but no, you know, not incredibly and like, boom, like it was a miracle. Well, I'm trying to just keep faith on that. Just keep he's on what you're doing. And if you just focus and keep the lane on that, you know, he's pretty strict to me too. What I love to do, you know, like two lines mindful a business to try to get more into mental health and, and that's important to me. So I really wanted to give that in my craft kit. You know that in the end stuff comes. Um, But yeah, you're completely right. The comparison lane is such a, it's such a trap. You say it's an easy trap to fall into, isn't it?

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Plus I also think if everyone else has done something, I'm usually the last to know. So it probably means by then I'm too late as well..

Silvina De Vita:

Yeah. Always late to the party.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, thank you so much. I've loved talking to you. Thank you so much for everything that you've shared. It's been brilliant.

Silvina De Vita:

Brilliant. Thank you so much for inviting me and I hope it is useful for any makers and artists out there.

Vicki Weinberg:

It's going to be so useful. Thank you so much.

Silvina De Vita:

Thank you so much. I really hope you enjoyed this episode as always. I'd love you to get in touch and let me know what you think. Do you remember to follow so that you get all future episodes as soon as they're ready.